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One "feature" of Stack Exchange is that it is just as easy to post a "wrong" answer as it is a right one.

The beauty of crowd-sourcing is that many eyeballs should push the "cream" to the top and the "chaff" to the bottom. The mechanism for this, of course, is the vote. This is still and always will be the primary mechanism for sorting answers.

The problem is that votes indicate more than just "this is accurate" or "this is demonstrably false. Style, adherence to guidelines, etc... all play a part in the voting process.

This leaves a gap, however. Since the site, by definition, draws people who don't know the answer to every question, how can the experts differentiate between the "demonstrably false" or "demonstrably off-topic answer" and the "Meh. Just not the best presentation I've seen of this yet."

In particular, we have users who choose to ignore site guidelines about answers supposing to represent "groups" rather than individual opinion. Again, how do we differentiate answers that are representative of Christian groups' theologies from those that are not? How do we differentiate between say, a valid response representative of a minority viewpoint from that of an invalid "this is just my opinion on the matter"?

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One method that comes to mind is to encourage the use of editing to identify doctrinal perspectives. If the answer does not indicate a perspective, having other users add a block like:

THIS ANSWER IS REPRESENTATTIVE OF A DISPENSATIONAL THEOLOGY

is both informative and nonconfrontational. While I might quibble at some point over how broad or narrow the message is, it would probably encourage me to at least refine the block, if not already obvious. (Admittedly, it might stick out like a sore thumb if its only done one, but if it becomes common, then no offense would be taken. Ultimately, it would be helpful if users got into the habit of doing this...)

The fun part comes in extending it. Imagine a "purely personal opinion post" that gets edited with what can really be the only accurate answer

THIS ANSWER IS NOT REPRESENTATTIVE OF AN ESTABLISHED CHRISTIAN GROUP

Especially since we are linking to the guidelines, it is still informative and has the benefit of not being "censoring," but candidly, it may be considered rude.

If done once, it is clearly rude. If applied consistently, however, it would simply be following the rules.

Additionally, sometimes it is just one statement that is "off the reservation" so to speak. If this is the case, I would suggest something like the following:

This is an answer that has several good points, but then throws in something clearly false like, Most Christians believe that God normally wears a pink tutu around the house, and that the Holy spirit prefers yellowThis claim is not representative of an established Christian group

I do admit, this could lead to a reversion war, which is the primary downside of this approach. That said, it at least clarifies the issue.


If somebody wants to appeal such a label, we might want to simply add: Under Appeal with a link to an appropriate meta question.

  • I'm just throwing this out there as an idea. I'd like to know what people think, and I'd also like to see better ideas! – Affable Geek Nov 2 '12 at 21:31
  • I think a block with all caps is going too far, as is using strikeout. A line at the top with <sup> tags would do fine. – El'endia Starman Nov 2 '12 at 22:06
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    I don't think this kind of editing is going to be the best way to proceed. There are too many ways it could go wrong. Even the best of us often fail to properly identity what view people are trying to represent, we only see that the failed to clearly identify. This would also tend to encourage more judgment calls between orthodox and heterodox teaching. I'll try put together an answer of my own suggesting using more traditional SE methods in the next few days. – Caleb Nov 3 '12 at 5:38
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    No. Editing someone else's answer to be something other than a clarification or simplification of what they originally said or intended to say is a misuse of that capability. – Kaz Dragon Nov 7 '12 at 12:56

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